Central Bathhouse Vienna
The Centralbad (today: Kaiserbründl) for the last 120 years is generally regarded as the oldest and most distinguished bathing-establishment in Vienna. The unusually deep well of the building itself was already in use in Roman times for the small fortification at a bridge (proven through the discovery of coins dating back to the Emperors Heliogabalus and Alexander Severus). This building structure, later known as Weihenpurgkh, formed part of a separate fortified small suburb outside Vienna until 1156. In the Middle Ages and until 1880 this area was the centre for textiles (der alte Ramhof), the first document mentioning a padstubn (“bathing room”) in this house dates back to 1369.
Between 1887-1889, the house was built by the famous Viennese architects Anton Honus, Anton Lang (the father of Fritz Lang), Albert Constantin Swoboda and the brothers Edmund and Franz Czada and the interior received its present look in 1894.
During the late 19th century the Centralbad (then the only bath in the city centre) gained a very great social reputation. Simon Baruch, the famous pioneer in the field of hydrotherapy and founder of the public bathing system of New York, called the Viennese Bath "the most substantial, elegant and complete bath in the world." Among its regular guests was the Archduke Ludwig Viktor of Austria, a brother of the emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, who was famous for his love of male beauty. The name Kaiserbründl has been chosen in remembrance of the visits of three imperial majesties in another Vienna bathhouse, the Roemisches Bad (Roman Bathhouse, opened in 1873) at Praterstern.
- Blueprints as supplement of Anton Honus’ essay: Das Wiener Zentralbad
- Patricia Spain Ward: Simon Baruch: rebel in the ranks of medicine, 1840-1921, University of Alabama Press, 1994, S. 168.
- "Now, however, the repeatedly mentioned and often completely wrongly described incident occurred in the Zentralbad in Weihburggasse, an institution that has remained as a meeting point for homosexuals to this day, but was not exclusively visited by same-sex predisposed people at the time. There are many variations of what happened. To put it simply, the situation could be described as follows: Ludwig Victor tried to establish closer contact with an attractive young man and was slapped in the face. The scandal could no longer be covered up and quickly became widely known. Ludwig Victor, who, as we know, did not make a great state secret of his disposition, is said to have driven “with his court wagon plus lackeys” to the central pool several times a week. [...] Homoerotic excursions as a state act, so to speak. He could be trusted. Maybe he also had some of his famous watches with him as gifts for the nice young 'friends'." (Translation by Google Translate, from the original German version: "Nun ereignete sich aber der immer wieder erwähnte und oft völlig falsch beschriebene Vorfall im Zentralbad in der Weihburggasse, einer Institution die sich bis heute als Treffpunkt Homosexueller erhalten hat, damals aber nicht ausschließlich von gleichgeschlechtlich Veranlagten besucht wurde. Es gibt viele Varianten des Geschehens. Auf einen einfachen Nenner gebracht, könnte man die Situation so beschreiben: Ludwig Victor versuchte näheren Kontakt mit einem attraktiven jungen Mann herzustellen und erhielt eine Ohrfeige. Der Skandal konnte nicht mehr vertuscht werden und wurde rasch in weiten Kreisen bekannt. Angeblich soll Ludwig Victor, der wie wir wissen aus seiner Veranlagung kein großes Staatsgeheimnis machte, “mit seinem Hofwagen plus Lakaien” mehrmals wöchentlich in das Zentralbad gefahren sein. [...] Homoerotische Exkursionen als Staatsakt sozusagen. Zuzutrauen wäre es ihm schon. Vielleicht hatte er auch einige seiner berühmten Uhren bei sich als Liebesgaben für die netten jungen 'Freunde'.") Helmut Neuhold: Das andere Habsburg: Homoerotik im österreichischen Kaiserhaus, Tectum: Marburg 2008, p. 158.
- The visitors had been Franz Joseph I of Austria (12 August 1873), Pedro II of Brazil (13 March 1877) and Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (8 and 13 July 1878). F. Czeike, Historisches Lexikon Wien, 2004, Bd. 4, S. 690.
- Roman Bathhouse Vienna.
- Aeryn M. J. Gillern Missing in Austria Archived April 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine and GONE – Movie about Gillern. The movie had been shown as well at the Viennale-Festival Vienna (Viennale-Tagebuch) on 23 October 2011.
Media related to Central Bathhouse Vienna at Wikimedia Commons
- History of the Centralbad
- Picture of the pool today
- Wall painting by Stefan Riedl
- Architectural designs by Stefan Riedl